Issue of July 26, 2015
     
NEWS
Benguet
Ifugao
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

68th
Courier Anniversary Issue
 
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EDITORIAL

Establishing Mt. Pulag’s Metes and Bounds


On Thursday, concerned communities and major stakeholders of the 11,500-hectare Mt. Pulag National Park will convene to resolve concerns that have put on hold the delineation of the park’s metes and bounds.

The ground delineation survey, made possible with funds allocated by the offices of Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan and Gov. Nestor B. Fongwan, skidded to a halt when the communities of Tawangan and Lusod blocked the way on the ground that they were not consulted or involved.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources admitted that the members of the survey team indeed erred in this regard. It went even further to admit that the Mt. Pulag communities were not in fact consulted when the mountain was proclaimed a national park by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 75 issued on Feb. 20, 1987 by President Cory C. Aquino.

Despite this, the proclamation was probably what was needed “to protect and to preserve the natural features of the area such as its outstanding vegetation and wildlife.” Mention is also made that the area is considered both a sacred mountain and as part of the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples found on its slopes and foothills.

Among other things, Mt. Pulag is a National Integrated Protected Areas Program site. As such, it is overseen by a management team headed by a park superintendent with a complement of rangers and personnel.

Yet ironically, Mt. Pulag’s status has not stopped the expansion of communities from edging deeper into its interiors, converting what were once dense and mossy forests into farm lands and luring land speculators in the process. The inability to prosecute violators of the Revised Forestry Code is seen as fodder in abetting land conversion.

With the delineation survey, Mt. Pulag’s metes and bounds will have been established on the ground once and for all. Its protected areas will have been clearly delineated. Above all, actual occupants and the extent of their landholdings will have been determined. And whether or not the communities will become partners in protecting the national park and their protected areas is for all stakeholders to figure out.

Delineation on the ground revolved around the location of corners using the Global Positioning System, the installation of concrete monuments in major corners, the putting up of stakes or markers and the presentation of survey results to the local government units.

If we got the drift, the survey results can become the basis for the LGUs in formulating their zoning ordinance and land use plans, again with the end and view of striking a balance between human settlements and the environment.

The purpose and vision stand out like gems in a trough. It is certainly a novel and meaningful undertaking that deserves the support of all stakeholders. It is admittedly long-delayed in coming.

For Benguet and its local officials, it is a rare and historic opportunity to get their acts together if Mt. Pulag will remain a viable and sustainable landscape and gift of Mother Earth for all generations to come.

 

 



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